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Posted on Apr 25, 2015 |

Letter from Religious Leaders: Don’t Redefine Marriage

Letter from Religious Leaders: Don’t Redefine Marriage

Photo courtesy FreeImages.

Photo courtesy

More than 30 religious leaders, including four prominent Catholic bishops, signed an open letter to “all in positions of public service” released Thursday.

Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, and Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone signed the letter, as did representatives of the Orthodox Churches, the Mormons, the Southern Baptists, and many Christian denominations and associations. A Washington, DC, Imam is also among the signers.


“We hope this letter serves as an encouragement to all of us, especially those dedicated to public service, to continue to promote both marriage and religious freedom as integral to a healthy and free society,” said Archbishop Kurtz.


“Marriage as the union of one man and one woman provides the best context for the birth and rearing of children and should be specially protected by law. The law, when it upholds the unique meaning of marriage, is simply recognizing an objective reality, not constructing one: children always have a mother and a father and deserve to be loved and raised by both of them. Society should work to strengthen the unique bond between husband and wife, knowing that strong marriages build stronger communities.”


The complete text of the letter follows:




An Open Letter from Religious Leaders to All in Positions of Public Service

Released April 23, 2015


Dear Friends:


At this significant time in our nation’s history with the institution of marriage before the United States Supreme Court, we reaffirm our commitment to promote and defend marriage—the union of one man and one woman. As religious leaders from various faith communities, we acknowledge that marriage is the foundation of the family where children are raised by a mother and a father together. Our commitment to marriage has been expressed on previous occasions, including the Letter of Shared Commitment and Letter on Marriage and Religious Liberty. This commitment is inseparable from affirming the equal dignity of all people and the necessity of protecting their basic rights.


The state has a compelling interest in maintaining marriage as it has been understood across faiths and cultures for millennia because it has a compelling interest in the well-being of children. Every child has a mother and a father, and every child deserves the opportunity, whenever possible, to be raised by his or her own married mother and father in a stable, loving home. Marriage as the union of a man and a woman is the only institution that encourages and safeguards the connection between children and their mother and father. Although this connection cannot always be realized and sustained—and many single parents, for example, are heroic in their efforts to raise their children—it is in the best interests of the state to encourage and uphold the family founded on marriage and to afford the union of husband and wife unique legal protection and reinforcement.


The redefinition of legal marriage to include any other type of relationship has serious consequences, especially for religious freedom. It changes every law involving marital status, requiring that other such relationships be treated as if they were the same as the marital relationship of a man and a woman. No person or community, including religious organizations and individuals of faith, should be forced to accept this redefinition. For many people, accepting a redefinition of marriage would be to act against their conscience and to deny their religious beliefs and moral convictions. Government should protect the rights of those with differing views of marriage to express their beliefs and convictions without fear of intimidation, marginalization or unwarranted charges that their values imply hostility, animosity, or hatred of others.


In this and in all that we do, we are motivated by our duty to love God and neighbor. This love extends to all those who disagree with us on this issue. The well-being of men, women, and the children they conceive compels us to stand for marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We call for the preservation of the unique meaning of marriage in the law, and for renewed respect for religious freedom and for the conscience rights of all in accord with the common good. Sincerely Yours:

The Rev. Dr. Leith Anderson
National Association of Evangelicals


The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America


Dr. A.D. Beacham, Jr.
Presiding Bishop
International Pentecostal Holiness Church


The Rev. John F. Bradosky
North American Lutheran Church


Rev. Mark Chavez
General Secretary
North American Lutheran Church


Clint Cook
Executive Director
General Association of General Baptists


Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone
Archbishop of San Francisco
Chairman USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage


His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios
Archbishop of America President of the Holy Eparchial Synod
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America


The Most Rev. Robert Duncan
Archbishop Emeritus
Anglican Church in North America
Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh


Rev. Dr. Ron Hamilton
Conference Minister
Conservative Congregational Christian Conference


Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison
Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod


Rev. Bruce D. Hill
Evangelical Congregational Church


John Hopler
Great Commission Churches


Steven R. Jones
Missionary Church, Inc.


Imam Faizul Khan
Islamic Society of Washington Area


Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz
Archbishop of Louisville
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


Most Rev. William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore
Chairman, USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty


Dr. Jo Anne Lyon
General Superintendent
The Wesleyan Church


Most Rev. Richard J. Malone
Bishop of Buffalo
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth


Dr. Russell Moore
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission


Dr. Gus Reyes
Christian Life Commission, Texas Baptists


Rev. Eugene F. Rivers, III
Founder and President
Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies


Jacqueline C. Rivers
Executive Director
Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies


Larry Roberts
Chief Operating Officer
The Free Methodist Church – USA


Rocky Rocholl
Fellowship of Evangelical Churches


Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference / Hispanic Evangelical Association


Bishop Gary E. Stevenson
Presiding Bishop
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


Dr. L. Roy Taylor
Stated Clerk
Presbyterian Church in America


His Beatitude, The Most Blessed Tikhon
Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Orthodox Church in America


Dr. Joseph Tkach
Grace Communion International


Rev. Dr. David Wendel
Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism
North American Lutheran Church


Rev. Phillip Whipple
United Brethren in Christ Church, USA


David P. Wilson
General Secretary
Church of the Nazarene


Rev. Paul Winter
Bruderhof Communities


Dr. George O. Wood
General Superintendent
Assemblies of God

For a pdf file of the letter, click here.

For more on religious freedom issues:

Click here for our Religious Liberty resources page. Click here to see all our previous stories and guest posts on religious liberty issues.

Click here for the USCCB’s resource page on the Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty.

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